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Meetings are scheduled for each school to share information, express concerns

COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON TRAIL SCHOOL DISTRICT - Despite rumors of impending closure, Welches Schools will remain open as part of the Oregon Trail School District.Many of the Oregon Trail School District elementary schools are at or over capacity and in need of some TLC, and district administrators have taken note. Now, in a series of meetings, they are reaching out for parent input on future renovations and improvements to their students' academic homes.

Last October, the district hired McKinstry, a Portland construction engineering company, to create a new facilities plan, which outlined the capital needs of its schools to serve an inevitable student influx.

"What we ended up with was a pretty big to-do list for all of the schools," district Communications Manager Julia Monteith said at the time. "But this will help us prioritize."

The summary of the plan mentions that "while all school buildings are well-maintained, they are aging." The average age of the Oregon Trail schools is 47 years old.

The schools the company raised as most in need of improvement are Sandy Grade, Naas Elementary, Firwood Elementary, Kelso Elementary and Boring Middle School, which are expected to grow beyond their capacity within the next 10 years. Naas Elementary and Kelso Elementary are already using modular classrooms on their campuses to address capacity issues.

The upcoming meetings at schools will gather concerns and questions parents might have about these stresses and possible solutions.

One rumor the district is already working to dispell is the idea that Welches Schools might be closed. The district has no plans to close the Welches campus.

"We value Welches as an asset (for) providing education in the mountain communities," noted Superintendent Aaron Bayer. "We intend to keep that school in good repair so it can continue to serve the mountain communities well into the future."

The only school untouched by the proposed facilities plan is Sandy High School, as the structure is less than 10 years old and built to handle a larger capacity greater than it currently supports.

Meetings for parents to speak with district admin about the facilities plan are at the following dates and times:

- 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Cedar Ridge Middle School

- 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, Sandy High School

- 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, at Naas Elementary School

- 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Sandy Grade School

- 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, at Boring Middle School

The facility assessment report and population study can also be viewed on the district website at www.oregontrailschools.com/facilities.

"As stewards of our community's schools, the Oregon Trail School District Board of Directors understands the importance of maintaining the community's investment in our facilities and campuses," the district said in an announcement. "That stewardship includes ongoing facility assessment to help forecast future needs and provide quality learning spaces for students."


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